Well-bred horses who begin their careers with an eye-catching debut win can generate plenty of excitement, but just because one was well-beaten on that first visit to the racecourse does not mean that they are not destined to become leading Group 1 contenders within the next few months.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old The Pentagon is a good example and, in an interesting coincidence, one of the horses who was beaten by a long way the day he won his maiden on fast ground at the Curragh is his Ballydoyle team-mate and exciting Grade 1 star Mendelssohn. Needless to say, the latter has improved by a massive amount since that 16 and a quarter-length defeat.
The Pentagon won by eight and a half lengths that day in mid-July, sent off the stable's second string of three, ridden by leading apprentice Ana O'Brien, and soon to become the ante-post favourite for 2018's Group 1 Investec Derby.
A month before it had been he who was the well-beaten debutant, finishing a 19 and a quarter-length sixth behind runaway first-timer and subsequent Group 1 star Verbal Dexterity over the same course and distance, but on soft ground.
Just 12 days after his maiden success, he stayed-on well to beat Theobald by one and three-quarter lengths in the Group 3 JRA Tyros Stakes on good ground at Leopardstown, but it was three months before he was seen in action again, this time finishing third to Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy over a furlong farther at Doncaster, with old rival Verbal Dexterity three-parts of a length back in fourth.
The Pentagon, whom Timeform rated 114p in 2017, is due to make his seasonal reappearance in the Group 3 P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes over 10 furlongs at Leopardstown tomorrow where his rivals include talented stablemates Nelson and Delano Roosevelt, both of whom also have the potential to reach the top.
He was bred by the famous Irish farm Barronstown Stud, he is a son of Coolmore Stud's phenomenal stallion Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) and he is out of the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary winner Vadawina (by Unfuwain), which makes him inbred 3x3 to the dynasty-maker Northern Dancer (by Nearctic).
His siblings include the Group 1-placed Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris winner Vadamar (by Dalakhani) and pattern-placed stakes winner Vedouma (by Dalakhani), and his dam is a half-sister to Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary scorer Vazira (by Sea The Stars) and also to dual 10-furlong Group 3 winner Vadapolina (by Trempolino). The latter is the dam of Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) runner-up Veda (by Dansili).
This is a colt who should have no trouble staying the Derby distance.
Of course, all of those good horses are just the tip of the iceberg of his pedigree as his grandam is Vadaza (by Zafonic), a stakes-placed half-sister to Valixir (by Trempolino) and Celebre Vadala (by Peintre Celebre) and out of a stakes-winning half-sister to several other horses of note.
Valixir won the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes and Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan, and the races in which he was placed included the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby), Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois, and Group 1 Prix Lupin.
Celebre Vadala got her best win in the Listed Prix Melisande over 10 furlongs, she was also successful over a mile and a half, and her star son is the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp star and young Tally-Ho Stud stallion Vadamos (by Monsun), who has his first foals on the ground.
Vadlamixa (by Linamix), third dam of The Pentagon, got her blacktype success in a mile listed contest at Deauville, but her half-brother Val Royal (by Royal Academy) won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile and a trio of Group/Grade 2 contests from eight to 10 furlongs before going on to sire Group 1 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas hero Cockney Rebel in a short stallion career: he died at the age of 12.
Their half-sister Grand Vadla (by Grand Lodge) won a pair of listed contests, half-brother Vadlawys (by Always Fair) won the Group 2 Prix Hocquart over 12 furlongs at Longchamp, and his full-sister Vadlawysa is the grandam of ill-fated Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) heroine Valyra (by Azamour) and of Group 2 Prix Chaudenay winner and Whytemount Stud stallion Valirann (by Nayef).
If you go back to the fifth dam then you will find branches leading to classic-winning miler Vahorimix (by Linamix) and to Group 1 Irish St Leger heroine Voleuse De Coeurs (by Teofilo), both of whom are, of course, only distant relations to The Pentagon.
The heavy ground, lack of a recent outing, and a small field may combine to produce a result that is not truly reflective of the long-term potential of each of the runners in tomorrow's classic trial, but there is every reason to hope that The Pentagon, and his two stable companions, can go on to become leading members of the current three-year-old crop.
Galileo's domination at the top of the sires' table has been phenomenal and, although the season is still young, he is well positioned to take yet another championship title in 2017.
At Newmarket this afternoon his daughters Winter and Rhododendron were first and second in the Group 1 Qipco 1000 Guineas, 24 hours after his juvenile champion son Churchill took the Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas over the same course and distance. All three are trained by Aidan O'Brien.
Today's runner-up was the big race favourite but the Group 1 star met with some trouble in running, ran on strongly, but never looked likely to catch the winner who had moved to the front two out.
Winter ran three times in 2016, when trained by the now retired David Wachman, and she made her debut in a six-furlong Naas maiden in mid May. She finished a one and a quarter-length third to Cuff that day, filled the same position behind Butterflies over a quarter-mile farther at Gowran Park in July, and then justified favouritism in a seven-furlong maiden on the polytrack at Dundalk in August.
Her first start for the Ballydoyle team was at Leopardstown last month when she got within a head of beating Hydrangea in the Group 3 Ballylinch Stud 1000 Guineas Trial Stakes over seven furlongs, looking considerably better than her official mark of 89.
She was sent off at 9/1 at Newmarket and came home two lengths clear of Rhododendron, with Daban a neck back in third and the once-raced maiden winner Talaayeb another one and a quarter lengths behind in fourth. Hydrangea was only tenth.
Winter is the second foal out of Laddies Poker Two (by Choisir), a mare who ran just five times but whose final start was quite remarkable.
Unraced at two, she skated home by six lengths in a seven-furlong maiden on the polytrack at Kempton in January of her three-year-old season and was then off the track for seven months before finishing third in a handicap over the same trip at Newmarket.
She dropped back to six and took a handicap at Ascot by one and three-quarter lengths but was a disappointing favourite in a listed contest over the same trip at Newmarket a few weeks later, finishing only sixth. She was not seen in action again until June of her five-year-old season when, despite the absence, she took the Wokingham by two and a half lengths, carrying 8st 11lbs.
Laddies Poker Two is one of five winners from the first six foals out of Break Of Day (by Favorite Trick), and unraced half-sister to the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes runner-up Ma Yoram (by Dayjur). Her siblings also include Kathleen's Dream (by by Last Tycoon), who is the unraced dam of the listed scorer and 14-time winner Castor Troy (by Ali-Royal), and she is out of Quelle Affaire (by Riverman), a placed full-sister to Rami.
He was a high-class performer who won the Group 3 Concorde Stakes at Tipperary and earned placings in the Group 2 Queen Anne Stakes, Group 2 Challenge Stakes, Group 2 International Stakes, and a Group 2 contest in South Africa, and he was one of three stakes-winning offspring for his Group 1-winning dam.
Crack Regiment (by El Gran Senor) won the Group 3 Prix Eclipse and was placed in the Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte, Group 3 Prix de Meautry, Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau and Group 3 Prix du Palais Royal, and stakes-winning half-sister La Grande Epoque (by Lyphard) was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp.
That talented sprinter became the dam of the listed scorers Prince Tum Tum (by Capote) and Matelot (by Riverman), the latter of whom was third in the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Gheest, and her winning half-sister Diamond Snow (by Dayjur) deserves a mention for being the grandam of Group 3 winner and Group 1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) third Meiner Frost (by Black Tide).
Ancient Regime (by Olden Times), the fourth dam of Winter, was France's juvenile filly champion of 1980 when she won the Group 1 Prix Morny and was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Robert Papin. She did pick up fourth place in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas), but was also fourth in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp and placed in each of the Group 3 Prix du Gros Chene, Group 3 Prix de Seint-et-Oise, and Group 3 Prix du Petit Couvert, so speed was her game.
Her prolific full-brother Cricket Ball won the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Gheest, her full-sister Olden was a triple stakes winner in the USA, and her dam was Caterina (by Princely Gift), the Nunthorpe Stakes heroine of 1966.
Winter is another fine example of how sprint families can produce Group 1 stars by Galileo and, like so many good horses who represent that type of cross, there is doubt that she will stay beyond 10 furlongs.
Her entries include the Group 1 Investec Oaks, Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks and Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes, so her connections have clearly not ruled out the prospect of her getting a mile and a half, but it may be that the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas, Group 1 Coronation Stakes and Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes – in which she is also engaged – may prove to be more suitable targets.
Usually I review only pattern winners here, but it is early in the season and so few such contests have yet been held. And with the way he has won both of his starts in 2017, Orderofthegarter looks odds-on to pick up a first group success before long.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained son of prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) was runner-up in a pair of Leopardstown seven-furlong maidens on his only outings at two and he stormed home an 11-length winner over a mile at Naas last month when ridden by leading apprentice Ana O'Brien.
Seamie Heffernan was in the saddle for the one-mile Listed Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial Stakes yesterday afternoon and the pair made all to beat Taj Mahal by three and three-quarter lengths.
The bay was bred by Barronstown Stud and, as you would expect, he comes from a Group 1-producing family.
Orderofthegarter is out of Kitty Kiernan (by Pivotal), a speedy dual winner who was runner-up in the Group 3 Naas Juvenile Sprint Stakes and third in the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes. That record makes her the best offspring of Alstemeria (by Danehill), a full-sister to three pattern winners and half-sister to two broodmares of note.
Spartacus won both the six-furlong Group 1 Phoenix Stakes and one-mile Group 1 Gran Criterium as a juvenile but disappointed at stud, the prolific Meteor Shower won at up to Group 3 level in South Africa, but the most accomplished of Alstemeria's brothers was Johan Cruyff.
He began his career in Ireland where he won the Group 2 Gallinule Stakes and Group 3 Beresford Stakes before going on to become a high-class performer in Hong Kong. There his wins included the Listed (local Group 1) Hong Kong Derby, and he earned over £1 million in prize money during his career.
His half-sister Mantles Princess (by Rock City) is the dam of the New Zealand-bred Hong Kong Derby winner Super Satin (by Danehill Dancer), and another half-sister, Leukippids (by Sadler's Wells), is the dam of dual Hong Kong Group 1 star and multimillionaire Blazing Speed (by Dylan Thomas). His top-level wins have been in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Champions and Chater Cup.
Lady Bones (by Royal Applause), an unraced half-sister to Blazing Speed, has done her part for the family by producing Laganore (by Fastnet Rock), last year's 10-furlong Listed Pride Stakes winner, short-head Group 3 Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes runner-up, and Group 1 Premio Lydia Tesio third.
Orderofthegarter's two wins have come in the style of a potentially top-class miler. He is bred to be a Group 1 horse, his entries include next month's Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas, and his pedigree gives him a strong chance of being equally well-suited to 10 furlongs.
Classic trial season is under way and one of last year's leading juvenile fillies made a winning return to action in the Group 3 Ballylinch Stud 1000 Guineas Trial Stakes over seven furlongs at Leopardstown yesterday afternoon.
Hydrangea (by Galileo) ran seven times at two with only a seven-furlong Curragh maiden to show in the wins column, but she was runner-up in each of the Group 2 Debutante Stakes, Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, and Group 1 Fillies' Mile before coming home in last place behind New Money Honey in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on firm ground at Santa Anita in November.
Rhododendron beat her by a head in the Debutante and by two and a quarter lengths at Newmarket, and the margin was a short-head when pipped by Intricately in the Moyglare. That latter rival was again in opposition yesterday, carrying a 3lb penalty for her Group 1 win, and was not disgraced in finishing fourth.
For a few strides is looked as though Hydrangea was about to end up with another pattern-race second to her name as her stable companion Winter stayed on strongly, but the line came in time for the Aidan O'Brien-trained bay, who won by a head.
Hydrangea was bred by the Beauty Is Truth Syndicate and, as one might expect, she holds an entry in both Group 1 Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh. She is also engaged in the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks and so the question of how far she might stay holds added interest.
Many will remember her dam, Beauty Is Truth (by Pivotal), who was a notable sprinter at both two and three years of age and who won the Listed Prix Yacowlef, Group 3 Prix d'Arenberg, and Group 2 Prix du Gros-Chene.
The mare is out of the Group 2-placed, Group 3-winning sprinter Zelding (by Warning), who is a half-sister to the five-furlong pattern winner Nipping (by Night Shift) and to Zipping (by Zafonic), who was joint-champion three-year-old sprinter in Europe in 2002.
He won the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at two and Group 3 Prix de Ris-Orangis at three, he was runner-up to Johannesburg in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes and fourth to Rock Of Gibraltar in the Group 1 2000 Guineas, and his dam, Zelda (by Caerleon), is a winning half-sister to a sprint champion.
At first glance, this might suggest that Hydrangea will be one of those Galileos who excel at a mile, may get 10 furlongs, but would find the Oaks trip a reach too far. That could be exactly how she turns out, and the exploits of her half-sister would support that position, but she also has a notable full-brother and he stays 12 furlongs.
Fire Lily (by Dansili) is her sister, and although she was runner-up in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes and in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at two, her best wins came in the Anglesey Stakes, Ballyogan Stakes, and Phoenix Sprint Stakes – all Group 3 and all over six furlongs.
Hydrangea's full-brother is the Australian-based former Ballydoyle entire The United States, who finished fourth to Winx in the Group 1 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 10 furlongs at Randwick yesterday. This seven-figure earner's seven wins include the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill, also over 10, and the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup over 12 and a half furlongs in which he beat the subsequent Group 1 Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance (gave 3lbs) by half a length.
That horse does, however, stand out alone among the plethora of blacktype winners in the first four generations of the family, one high-class middle-distance winner among a sea of sprinters and milers.
The aforementioned but to now unidentified sprint champion half-brother to Zelda is the influential Last Tycoon (by Try My Best), the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes winner who rounded off that season with victory in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita.
He went on to become a leading sire in both hemispheres, some of his progeny were middle-distance stars, and his stallion sons include Derby runner-up Marju and New Zealand's multiple champion sire O'Reilly, a dual Group 1 star who stood at Waikato Stud up to his death in December 2014.
His half-brother Astronef (by Be My Guest) won the Group 2 Premio Melton and two editions of the Group 3 Goldene Peitsche – one of the best sprints in Germany – and Last Tycoon's full-sister The Perfect Life got her best wins in the Group 3 Prix du Bois and Listed Prix Imprudence.
Their half-sister Side Of Paradise (by Sadler's Wells) won a mile listed contest at Saint-Cloud and finished second in the Group 3 Prix Fille de l'Air over 10 and a half furlongs, and she is one of three daughters of one-time scorer Mill Princess (by Mill Reef) to hit the Group 1 jackpot at stud.
She is the dam of 2011 champion Immortal Verse (by Pivotal), a mile star whose wins featured the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois and Group 1 Coronation Stakes, and who is bred on similar lines to Hydrangea.
Stakes-placed Save Me The Waltz (by Kings Lake) is the dam of both one-mile US Grade 1 Matron Stakes winner Sense Of Style (by Thunder Gulch) and of Valentine Waltz (by Be My Guest), who won the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas), and that classic is also on the CV of Tie Black (by Machiavellian), daughter of one-time winner Tender Is Thenight (by Barathea).
There is one other horse who deserves mention and that is Glorious Sight (by Singspiel), a stakes-winning half-sister to Beauty Is Truth. She is by a middle-distance star and classic sire whose best winners came at pretty much every distance from five furlongs (e.g. Take Cover) to two and a half miles (e.g. Papineau), and she was placed in both the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks).
The odds are stacked heavily in favour of Hydrangea being a miler who may stay up to the 10 and a half furlongs of that latter classic, but the record of her full-brother raises the possibility that she might also get a little bit farther.
The 2017 turf season is just beginning – its first pattern event was held in France this afternoon - and during its early weeks the talk of classics will be mostly focused on the mile events: Derby discussion often does not get much coverage until after the Guineas meeting at Newmarket.
Such has been the emphasis on producing speed that, in recent years, it has often been hard to identify serious Derby candidates among the leading juveniles, colts about whom you could say with confidence 'he will definitely stay the mile and a half.'
Last season's leading two-year-olds did include a horse who looks sure to stay and who has already got a major win to his name. His connections are no stranger to classic success, so could he be the one?
The Andre Fabre-trained Waldgeist made a winning debut over a mile at Chantilly in early September, finished third to Frankuus in the Group 3 Prix de Conde over nine furlongs at the same venue a month later, and then advertised his classic potential with a promising performance in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud over 10, on soft ground, in which he beat Best Solution by a length.
The chestnut is a son of dual Derby hero and prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells), but what all but guarantees his stamina is the input from the distaff side of his family, a line that has already yielded two Group 1 classic stars, over 12 furlongs and farther, in recent years.
Waldgeist is out of the Group 3 Prix Penelope winner Walderche (by Monsun), that mare is a half-sister to the middle-distance listed race winner Waldnah (by New Approach) and, more notably, also to 2011's Group 1 St Leger hero Masked Marvel (by Montjeu).
Europe's champion three-year-old stayer of that season, he also won the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy and Listed Cocked Hat Stakes, he stands at Haras d'Etreham, in France, and his first crop are now yearlings.
Their dam, Waldmark (by Mark Of Esteem), was runner-up in the Group 2 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket and in a 10-furlong listed contest at Newbury, and she is a half-sister to the Group 1 Deutsches Derby star Waldpark (by Dubawi), who stands at Haras du Thenney and also has yearlings now.
Waldmark's siblings also include the pattern-placed middle-distance pair Waldvogel (by Polish Precedent) and Waldjagd (by Observatory) and her dam is the twice joint-champion German runner Wurfaube (by Acatenango). Her string of blacktype successes featured the Group 2 Gerling Preis over 12 furlongs and the 14-furlong Group 2 Deutsches St Leger, in which she beat Night Petticoat by 11 lengths.
In addition to being a half-sister to the dual Group 3 scorer Wurfscheibe (by Tiger Hill), Wurftaube is also a half-sister to Wurfspiel (by Lomitas), who is the stakes-placed dam of Wake Forest (by Sir Percy).
That now seven-year-old entire was a multiple Group 3 scorer in Germany before crossing the Atlantic, he won the Grade 1 Man O'War Stakes over 11 furlongs at Belmont Park last May, was only beaten a neck when runner-up to The Pizza Man in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes over 12 furlongs at Woodbine in September, and is already off the mark in 2017 with victory in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes over 11 on firm turf at Gulfstream Park two weeks ago.
It remains to be seen just how good Waldgeist will be at his peak, but so far everything points towards him being a top-class middle-distance horse in the making and it is possible that this 114-rated chestnut could become one of the brightest stars of 2017.
Heavy ground can make form unreliable but Capri was odds-on when beating Yucatan by three-parts of a length in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes on that surface at the Curragh in September, a month before achieving a higher rating in defeat in France.
The latter race was the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud over 10 furlongs on soft ground and he was only beaten by a length and half a length when third to Waldgeist and Best Solution, with Douglas Macarthur a neck back in fourth.
He ran three times before his pattern success, finishing a half-length second to Arcada on his debut in a seven-furlong Curragh maiden in July, easily winning over a furlong and a half farther at Galway a fortnight later, and then taking a seven and a half furlong listed contest at Tipperary just six days after that.
Capri, an Aidan O'Brien-trained grey who was bred by the partnership of Lynch Bages Ltd and Camas Park Stud, ended his juvenile campaign on a rating of 113 and, as you might expect, he holds entries in the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas, Group 1 Investec Derby, and Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
The colt is out of the French winner Dialafara (by Anabaa) and that half-sister to winners is, in turn, a daughter of the talented Diamilina (by Linamix). She won the Group 2 Prix de Mallaret and Group 3 Prix de la Nonette, she was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille, and she has quite a few relations of note.
Her half-brother Diamond Green (by Green Desert) won the Group 3 Prix La Rochette as a juvenile and was later runner-up in each of the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas), Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes, and Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. His progeny feature the US Grade 1 scorer Watsdachances, which could make Capri an interesting prospect if he goes on to secure a place at stud.
Diamonixa, a full-sister to Diamilina, looked like a potential Group 1 star in the making when running away with the Group 3 Prix Cleopatre on her second start but, sadly, she met with a fatal accident before getting the chance to run again.
Their full-sister Dali's Grey, who won just once, has done her part for the family as she is the dam of the listed scorer and Group 1 Melbourne Cup runner-up Bauer (by Halling) and grandam of the dual stakes-winning fillies Bezique (by Cape Cross) and Momayyaz (by Elusive Quality).
Diamonaka (by Akarad), the grandam of Capri, was runner-up in both the Group 2 Prix de Mallaret and Group 3 Prix du Royaumont and she was among nine winners out of Phoenix Park listed scorer Diamond Seal (by Persian Bold).
Those siblings include Group 2 Prix Greffulhe winner and Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris third Diamond Mix (by Linamix), Group 3 Prix de Royaumont scorer Diasilixa (by Linamix). and also Diamond Dance (by Dancehall), the Group 3 Prix Penelope-winning dam of Group 2 Prix de Pomone victress Diamond Tango (by Acatenango). The last-named is the dam of three blacktype earners including last year's Group 3 Prix de Lutece runner-up Dounyapour (by Lope De Vega).
It remains to be seen just how good Capri will be at his peak, and how he will fare on good and on fast ground, but he clearly has ability and also the potential to do well over middle-distances.
The phrase 'breed the best to the best and hope for the best' has long been used by many thoroughbred producers. All too often it soon becomes apparent that the dreams of stardom have been dashed but there are, of course, many Group 1 performers who are the product of Group 1-winning parents.
One example from 2016 is star juvenile Rhododendron, a daughter of Derby hero and prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) and of the triple Group 1 ace Halfway To Heaven (by Pivotal).
The Aidan O'Brien-trained bay was bred by Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt and she achieved her top billing with an impressive two and a quarter-length defeat of Hydrangea in the Group 1 Dubai Fillies' Mile at Newmarket in October.
She beat that same filly by a head in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh in August, finished a short-head and one and three-quarter lengths behind Intricately and Hydrangea in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes in September, and her only other outings were in maidens at the Curragh and at Goodwood, the latter an odds-on success.
Rhododendron is a leading classic contender for 2017, but although we already knows that the mile is no problem to her, and staying 10 furlongs looks a shade of odds-on, there is a chance that she may be more of a Guineas and Prix de Diane one than an Oaks filly.
Her dam's Group 1 treble came in the Irish 1000 Guineas, Nassau Stakes and Sun Chariot Stakes – all over a mile – and her full-brother, Flying The Flag, got his best win in the Group 3 International Stakes over 10 furlongs at the Curragh. He was unplaced both times he tried farther.
Halfway To Heaven is by a Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes winner whose progeny have got their Group 1 wins anywhere from five-furlong sprints up to 12-furlong classics, and she is out of Cassandra Go (by Indian Ridge), a Group 2 King's Stand Stakes and Group 2 Temple Stakes winner who chased home Mozart in the Group 1 July Cup.
That sprint ace is also the dam of the Group 3 Abernant Stakes and Group 3 Coral Charge Sprint Stakes winner Tickled Pink (by Invincible Spirit) and of Theann (by Rock Of Gibraltar), the six-furlong Group 3 scorer whose daughter Photo Call (by Galileo) is a Grade 1 star at eight and 10 furlongs in the USA, but has also had blacktype success at 11 furlongs and been placed at 12.
Cassandra Go's late half-brother Verglas (by Highest Honor) won the Group 3 Coventry Stakes and chased home Desert King in the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas before going on to a successful stud career, and her stakes-winning half-sister Persian Secret (by Persian Heights) became the dam of the pattern-winning sprinter Do The Honours (by Highest Honor) and of Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes third Seba (by Alzao), as well as being the grandam of Group 3 Desmond Stakes scorer Future Generation (by Hurricane Run).
The third dam of Rhododendron is the winning grey Rahaam (by Secreto) and that half-sister to Group 3 Prix Thomas Bryon winner and Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) third Glory Forever (by Forever Casting) is also a half-sister to the ancestor of some interesting horses.
That mare is Queen Caroline (by Chief's Crown), who was placed a few times, and she is the grandam of Remus De La Tour (by Stormy River), who is in his first season at stud at Haras de la Hermeraie in France.
He is a grandson of Verglas, so is inbred 4x3 to Rahaam's unraced dam Fager's Glory (by Mr Prospector), and both his Group 3 success and Group 2 placing came over 12 furlongs.
His three-parts sister Chill (by Verglas) won the nine-furlong Listed Prix Finlande and was runner-up in the 10 and a half-furlong Group 3 Prix Cleopatre before going on to produce Childa (by Duke Of Marmalade), a listed scorer who finished third in the Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris at Longchamp.
We won't know if Rhododendron will stay 12 furlongs until she tries it, and although it is certainly possible, it may be that she will be most at home over eight to 10 furlongs.
Not every horse given a name that evokes images of excellence, power or greatness lives up to its billing, but in the case of Churchill, the equine namesake has already bagged a championship title and set up the likelihood of an influential future, both on the track and at stud.
He was beaten on his debut, finishing a two and a half-length third over six furlongs at the Curragh in late May, but then reeled off five-in-a-row, including the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh and Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, and, on a mark of 122, he was crowned Europe's juvenile champion of 2016.
He beat Mehmas, who did not seem to stay the trip, by four and a quarter lengths in the first of those top-level wins, and those who followed him home in the Dewhurst were subsequent Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Lancaster Bomber, Group 2 scorer Blue Point, subsequent Group 1 stars Thunder Snow and Rivet, and subsequent Group 1-placed South Seas.
All of Churchill's wins have been in blacktype company and over seven furlongs and, one as one would expect, he is a short ante-post favourite for the Group 1 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
He is a son of the phenomenal Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) so should have no trouble with the mile, but anyone who is thinking of backing him for the Group 1 Investec Derby, for which he is also ante-post favourite, may wish to pause.
It is not impossible that he will stay that distance, but his is a family of sprinters and milers and that raises both strong doubt about his ability to go beyond 10 furlongs and a chance that the mile is where he is will prove best.
Churchill is trained by Aidan O'Brien, he was bred by Liberty Bloodstock, and he is out of the Group 3 Grangecon Stud Stakes winner and Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes runner-up Meow (by Storm Cat), a filly who showed more speed and precocity than either of her best two siblings.
Orator (by Galileo) won a listed contest over a mile at Nantes and a minor contest over a quarter-mile farther, and Aloof (by Galileo) got her Group 3 success at nine and a half furlongs at Gowran Park and multiple pattern placings from eight to 10 to and a half furlongs.
Their dam is Airwave (by Air Express), whose Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes victory gave her the title of champion two-year-old filly in England in 2002. She went on to add the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Sandown, she was runner-up in the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Ascot and third in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket.
She left Henry Candy's team and joined the Aidan O'Brien stable at the age of five and, on the second of three starts from that base, she won the Group 2 Ridgewood Pearl Stakes over a mile at the Curragh, so she stayed farther than her tragically ill-fated half-sister Jwala (by Oasis Dream).
That filly was all about speed, all five of her wins came over the minimum trip, and her finest hour came with Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes success at York. A few weeks later, on her penultimate start, she finished one and three-quarter lengths fourth to Maarek in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp.
Their unraced half-sister Vasilia (by Dansili) has produced three blacktype earners. Lasilia (by Acclamation) earned hers over five furlongs as a juvenile, and Dream Of Dreams (by Dream Ahead), who was runner-up to Sir Dancealot in the Listed Rockingham Stakes over six furlongs at York on his final start last season, finished third to Medicine Jack in the Group 2 Railway Stakes over the same trip at the Curragh several months before.
The most prolific of the trio is Silverheels (by Verglas), a five-time winner over a mile and who was placed in both the Group 2 Superlative Stakes and Group 3 Solario Stakes as a juvenile.
Airwave also has an unraced half-sister of interest, mainly because her two successful offspring have notched up a total of 18 wins between them. They are a long way below even stakes class, but Frequency (by Starcraft) has won eight times over six furlongs and three races over seven, while all seven wins for Sloop Johnb (by Bahamian Bounty) have come over five furlongs.
Churchill is clearly an exciting prospect and it is going to be fascinating to see what path his career takes. He looks like being a top-class miler in the making, one who may stay 10 furlongs rather than being a Derby colt, and while the latter is not impossible, the amount of speed throughout the distaff side of his family makes success at Epsom seem unlikely.
Promise To Be True has twice been a beaten favourite in Group 1 contests, first when only fifth to Intricately in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh and then when third to Thunder Snow and South Seas in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud.
That might sound like she has been a somewhat disappointing performer, but that would not be a fair assessment of this 112-rated classic prospect.
She started off her career in style, beating four rivals to take a seven and a half-furlong Tipperary maiden at the end of June and then following that with defeat of Take A Deep Breath in the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown.
Between the aforementioned defeats she was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac over a mile at Chantilly, beaten just three-parts of a length by Wuheida, the only time that she has not been favourite.
Promise To Be True is trained by Aidan O'Brien, she was bred by Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt, and as one might expect of a daughter of Galileo (by Sadler's Wells), she represents a top classic family. It is also one that features a fascinating mix of speed and stamina.
She is one of three winners out of Sumora (by Danehill), a mare whose best win came in the Listed St Hugh's Stakes over five furlongs, and she is a full-sister to Maybe, Europe's juvenile filly champion of 2011.
Maybe also won the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes, in her case after victory in the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, and to those she added both the Group 2 Debutante Stakes and Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes. She was only third in the Group 1 1000 Guineas, behind runaway winner Homecoming Queen, and she was beaten by less than four lengths when fifth to Was in the Oaks.
Her dam's three-parts sister Dancing Rain (by Danehill Dancer) took both the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom and the Group 1 Preis der Diana (German Oaks) at Dusseldorf, a unique double, and then added the Group 2 Qipco British Champions Filles' and Mares' Stakes at Ascot.
Their dam, Rain Flower (by Indian Ridge), did not race but was always a candidate to produce one or more high-class offspring because she is out of Rose Of Jericho (by Alleged). That mare was also unraced, but in addition to being the dam of leading Irish sprinter Archway (by Thatching) and of high-class Japanese colt Shinko King (by Fairy King), she was responsible for Dr Devious (by Ahonoora).
He won the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes and Group 3 Vintage Stakes as a juvenile before going on to take both the Group 1 Derby at Epsom and Group 1 Champion Stakes at Newmarket. Although never a major sire, his tally of stakes winners did include Group 1 scorers such as Collier Hill and Kinnaird, and he could be described as being a three-parts brother to Rain Flower.
If she has trained on from two to three then there is every reason to hope that Promise To Be True could become one of the top fillies of her age group. We already know that she stays a mile, and having done that at two suggests that she can handle 10 furlongs at three.
Whether or not she will manage the full Oaks distance, however, will depend on what she got from her dam: was it her sprinter's speed, or the family's middle-distance aptitude?
Coolmore Stud's prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) added yet another classic star to his tally when Seventh Heaven won the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Saturday.
Although a daughter of one of the world's best sources of top-class middle-distance horses, she was not a guaranteed stayer, bred instead with a strong chance of being another of her sire's mile to 10-furlong performers, but despite the speed in the distaff side of her family, the bottom half of her pedigree has clearly contributed the potential to stay.
We can only guess as to which of her dam's ancestors are responsible, and likely favourites would include Unbridled (by Fappiano) and Devil's Bag (by Halo), who are the maternal grandsire of her dam and grandam respectively, but if you go back a few generations then you find a top-level performer who stayed 12 furlongs, suggesting that a stamina potential may have been passed along more often than has been apparent in the most recent generations of the family, likely moderated, in some cases, by the sires.
Out of the frame on her only two starts as a juvenile, Seventh Heaven made an impressive return to action over a mile at Dundalk, thereby making her yet another Group 1 star who got an early winning start on the artificial tracks, and the second consecutive Irish Oaks heroine to do so, following Covert Love's victory at the Curragh 12 months ago.
All-weather graduates also include last year's Group 1 Irish Derby hero Jack Hobbs, recent Group 1 scorers Hawkbill, Silverwave and Zelzal, and the promising Group 2 winners Endless Time, Heshem and Wings of Desire. The last named runs in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot tomorrow.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Seventh Heaven followed her Dundalk win with a game neck defeat of Architecture in the Listed Oaks Trial at Lingfield in early May, proving that, despite the speed in her family, she had got its comparatively rare stamina influence, and now she had prospects of middle-distance classic success.
She did not handle the track at Epsom, where she was beaten by a distance behind her winning stable teammate Minding, but the Curragh was likely to suit her better, which would enable her to demonstrate her true ability. She would not have been 14/1 on Saturday had she gone straight from Lingfield to the Irish Oaks, and this time her margin of superiority over Architecture, who had been runner-up at Epsom, was two and three-quarter lengths.
So what was it about her pedigree that suggested the possibility, but certainly not a guarantee, that 12 furlongs could be too far for her?
When Galileo is paired with speed mares from speed families then it can happen that the result is a mile to 10 furlong horse. This was also true of his own great sire, Sadler's Wells (by Northern Dancer). His 59th Group 1 winner is out of the six-furlong Grade 3 scorer La Traviata (by Johannesburg) and her two prior blacktype horses are Crusade and Cristoforo Colombo.
That pair are sons of Mr Greeley (by Gone West) and Henrythenavigator (by Kingmambo) respectively, so both somewhat unlikely to stay beyond nine to 10 furlongs. Crusade won the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes, Cristoforo Colombo was fourth in that same contest 12 months later, and that younger colt earned his blacktype when runner-up in the Group 2 Railway Stakes and third in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes.
La Traviata, whose name is on the syndicate that bred her talented trio, is a half-sister to a prolific US gelding called Holy Dreamer (by Holy Bull) and full-sister to a one-time scorer named Ducane. Their unraced dam Piedras Negras (by Unbridled) is among 10 foals out of the minor nine-furlong listed scorer Provisions (by Devil's Bag), and that makes her a half-sister to seven successful runners, including 13-times scorer Visionary (by Silver Ghost) and the six-times winning filly Northeast Harbor (by Northern Afleet).
The most notable member of the septet, however, is Jack Sullivan (by Belong To Me), whose nine wins included the Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton and two editions of the Group 3 Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum Challenge 2 at Nad Al Sheba. His various blacktype placings feature second in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes over seven furlongs at Goodwood, when he was short-headed by the subsequent dual Group 1 star Court Masterpiece.
Their dam, Atzimba was a stakes-placed seven-times winning daughter of Miswaki (by Mr Prospector), making Seventh Heaven inbred 3x5 to that Group 1-winning sire of Urban Sea. And if you go back another generation then you will find that Novara (by Dance Spell), the unraced fifth dam of Seventh Heaven, was a half-sister to the Grade 2-winning 12-times scorer Cycylya Zee (by Knightly Manner) and also to the tragically ill-fated millionaire Southjet (by Northjet). He won the Grade 1 Rothmans International Stakes and Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes in 1986, was runner-up in the Japan Cup the following year, but died before getting a chance at stud.
Seventh Heaven is now a classic star, she may be capable of further improvement, her entries include next month's Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks, and it will be fascinating to find out where she sits in the overall rankings by the end of the year.
Most stallions never get as many as 58 stakes winners in their entire career, but when Deauville won the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes on Saturday evening he became the 58th individual Group/Grade 1 winner for his phenomenal sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells).
The overall tally of stakes winners for Coolmore Stud's prolific champion sire is closing in on four times that number, and in 2016 each of Alice Springs, Minding, Order Of St George, The Gurkha and The United States have also won at the highest level for him.
Deauville is out of Walklikeanegyptian and so is one of a dozen Galileo-sired Group/Grade 1 winners who are out of Danehill (by Danzig) mares. A further six are out of mares who are by a son of Danehill - including Alice Springs, Minding and The Gurkha - and four others represent other Danzig-line broodmare sires.
He made his debut in a seven-furlong Listowel maiden on heavy ground in late May last year, followed that with a half-length defeat of Sanus Per Aquam in the Group 3 Tyros Stakes over the same trip on fast ground at Leopardstown, and lost his unbeaten record when a three-quarter length runner-up to Foundation in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes over a mile at Newmarket two months later. His only other juvenile out was in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy, in which he finished fifth behind Marcel.
Deauville was only beaten by a neck when runner-up to Wings of Desire in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York on his seasonal reappearance, but disappointed when unplaced behind Harzand in the Derby at Epsom, beaten by more than 20 lengths. His neck victory in New York two days ago confirms his position as a high-class colt and he is now available at around 16/1 for next month's Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York, one of several top-level events in which he holds an entry.
Deauville is the fourth foal out of the aforementioned Walklikeanegyptian and he is a full-brother to The Corsican. Also bred by Mrs Fitri Hay, that David Simcock-trained colt won the Listed Festival Stakes at Goodwood and the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup (Arc Trial) at Newbury last year, he was fourth behind Free Eagle in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot, and was last seen out when finishing fifth behind Dariyan in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Saint-Cloud in early May. Sadly, the five-year-old was put down a few weeks later after an accident on the gallops.
The mare's first foal is the Swedish winner Absolute Soul (by Perfect Soul), her four-year-old is the Charles Hills-trained Heatstroke (by Galileo), who is available at around 33/1 for the Betfred Mile at Goodwood later this month, her unnamed juvenile is entered in next year's Group 1 Investec Derby and that full-brother to Deauville was followed by another Galileo colt in May 2015.
Walklikeanegyptian earned her blacktype when runner-up in a Grade 3 contest at Arlington, but her three-parts sisters Contredanse (by Danehill Dancer) and Callwood Dancer (by Danehill Dancer) are blacktype winners. The former took the Group 2 Oaks d'Italia and was runner-up in the Group 3 Prix de la Nonette, and the latter got her best win in the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes at Woodbine, the venue at which her blacktype placings featured the runners-up spot in the Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes.
Set Sail, who is a full-brother to those two fillies, has third place in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes to his name, but that was in the four-runner edition fought out by Sea The Stars and Mastercraftsman, and he was 32 lengths adrift of the latter.
Ahdaab (by Rahy) is the grandam of Deauville. She was placed once, as was one of her most notable siblings, and the best of the eight winners out of her dam was Maroof (by Danzig), a 66/1 shock winner of the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in 1994, the pacemaker they never caught. Two years before he had been a leading juvenile, winning the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood and taking the runners-up spot in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh.
His dam is the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes winner and Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks third Dish Dash (by Bustino) and the notable non-winning half-sister is Sabaah (by Nureyev), the mare who gave us Desert King (by Danehill).
He is somewhat closely related to Walklikeanegyptian, and to her talented sons, and the Irish National Stud-bred bay was the champion three-year-old in Ireland in 1997 when he won both the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Irish Derby. He was runner-up in both the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes and Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes that year, and as a juvenile he won the Group 1 National Stakes. Desert King enjoyed mixed success at stud, but his Group 1 winners include the triple Melbourne Cup heroine Makybe Diva.
Sabaah was also the dam of the Group 2-placed Chianti (by Danehill) and of the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes winner Cairdeas (by Darshaan), and her unraced daughter Dawn Attack (by Fantastic Light) has become a tremendous success at stud in Australia.
Her first foal is the Group 3-winning filly Crucial (by Nadeem), her second is the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes scorer Hazard (by Flying Spur), her fourth is the pattern-winning gelding Java (by Medaglia d'Oro), and he was followed by Flemington Group 3 scorer Antelucan (by Domesday).
Maroof also went to stud in the southern hemisphere and his progeny include the Group 1 Victoria Derby winner Hit The Roof, Grade 1 Hong Kong Spring winner Natural Blitz, South African Grade 1 heroines Hoeberg and Toccata, and New Zealand's champion juvenile and multiple Group 1 star Maroofity, among others of note.
As a Grade 1-winning son of Galileo and related to two Group 1 winners who have sired Group 1-winning progeny, Deauville has surely all but guaranteed that he will get a place at stud whenever his racing days come to an end, and such appeal will be wider should he manage to repeat the feat at least once in Europe. He did not appear to stay the trip at Epsom and he only just held on against a fast-finishing rival in New York, so it will be interesting to see if he stays at 10 furlongs and/or drops back to a mile.
We saw some impressive performances at the 2016 July Meeting at Newmarket and one of those was the victory of Alice Springs in the Group 1 Tattersalls 250th Year Falmouth Stakes (British Champions Series) over a mile on Friday. The optics of her two and a quarter length defeat of Very Special and Always Smile looked good, and so was the time she clocked, a new course record.
It is true that neither the favourite Usherette nor the multiple Group 1 star Amazing Maria showed anything close to their best that day, which was disappointing, but the winner may be improving, which is not really a surprise for an early May foal.
Bred by the partnership of Lynch-Bages and Longfield Stud, the chestnut daughter of Coolmore Stud's prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) is a 550,000gns graduate of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale and she is trained by Aidan O'Brien. She is out of Aleagueoftheirown (by Danehill Dancer), which makes her another Group 1 winner bred on the popular Galileo – Danehill line cross, and her relations include another two other mile Group 1 stars.
The Galileo – Danehill line cross added another top-level winner to its roll of honour on Saturday night when the Aidan O'Brien-trained Deauville won the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park, and its most famous representative is, of course, the undefeated Timeform 147-rated superstar Frankel, whose first eight runners have yielded seven winners (two of them blacktype placed) and one placed horse.
Of course, mares by Danehill Dancer (by Danehill) have also been responsible for this year's Galileo Group 1 classic stars Minding and The Gurkha, and other Danehill stallions who are the broodmare sire of a Galileo-sired Group/Grade 1 winner are Holy Roman Emperor (Johannes Vermeer), Mozart (Magician) and Rock Of Gibraltar (Photo Call).
Alice Springs is the fourth foal of her dam, her three older full-siblings are winners, and the fifth registered foal out Aleagueoftheirown is another Galileo filly, born last year.
Kingston Jamaica was the eldest, he was third in the Group 3 Tyros Stakes as a juvenile and third behind the tragically ill-fated subsequent classic star Trading Leather in the Listed Silver Stakes over 10 furlongs at the Curragh. He was then sold for $305,000 at the Fasig-Tipton July Sale, but met with a fatal accident after just three starts. His gelded full-brother Crocodile Rock won a nine and a half furlong Gowran Park maiden in October.
Criteria is now five years old and Cheveley Park Stud bought her for 535,000gns in Newmarket as a yearling. Her only win came in a 12-furlong maiden at Kempton, but next time out she picked up her first piece of blacktype when a nose runner-up in the Listed Oaks Trial Stakes at Lingfield. She was only beaten by three-parts of a length when third to Bracelet in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Ascot, she was also third in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster and runner-up in a listed contest at Newmarket.
Aleagueoftheirown was trained by David Wachman, and although she showed a lot or promise on her debut, when coming off worst in a four-way photo finish for the Group 2 Debutante Stakes over seven furlongs at Leopardstown, she only made the frame in two of her 11 subsequent starts, both of them short-head verdicts. The first, an eight and a half furlong Cork maiden, went her way, but the other one went to Elletelle, subsequently the dam of Adelaide.
So the two fillies who flashed past the post together at the end of 2008's Listed Sweet Mimosa Stakes over six furlongs at the Curragh both went on to produce a Galileo-sired Group 1 winner at stud.
Aleagueoftheirown is out of Golden Coral (by Slew O' Gold), a filly who was beaten by a total of 43 and a half lengths in three starts for the Aidan O'Brien stable, a lack of talent that is in stark contrast to that possessed by her full-sister Golden Opinion.
One of the early stars for their sire, the Andre Fabre-trained champion Golden Opinion won a listed contest at Maisons-Laffitte shortly before finishing third in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) and she won the Group 3 Prix de Sandringham at Chantilly before justifying favouritism in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot. She then beat all but the narrow winner Cadeaux Genereux in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket before thrashing her opposition by six lengths and more in the Group 3 Prix du Rond Point at Longchamp in October.
It is one of the odd quirks of the business that sometimes it is the lesser sibling who goes on to achieve the more notable success at stud, and although the unplaced Golden Coral is the grandam of Group 1 star Alice Springs, champion Golden Opinion's best descendant is the Group 3 Prix Allez France scorer Daksha (by Authorized), one of her granddaughters.
Tsar Maiden (by Nijinsky), who was placed, is another of Golden Coral's siblings and she earned her spot on catalogue pages by coming up with the Indian classic winner Wild Eagle, a miler by 1987's Group 1 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas star Don't Forget Me (by Ahonoora).
More notable, however, is the record of their winning half-sister Joyful (by Green Desert). The stakes-placed gelding Roker Park (by Choisir) is the best of her progeny on the track, but she is the grandam of four stakes winners, one of whom is a classic star.
The Richard Hannon-trained sprinter Orvar (by Dandy Man) won a valuable listed race in Turkey last year, and Italian second-crop sire Shaweel (by Dansili) won the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes, was third in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes and short-headed by Mastercraftsman in the Group 1 National Stakes. Nijoom Dubai (by Noverre) won the Group 3 Albany Stakes as a two-year-old and it is her half-sister who shares the honours, along with Golden Opinion and Alice Springs, as being one of the best the family has produced.
Samitar (by Rock Of Gibraltar), who was bred by Norman Court Stud, began her career with Mick Channon and also won the Group 3 Albany Stakes. She added a valuable sales race at Newmarket, the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas, the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes and a pair of listed contests, and she was only beaten by a head when runner-up to Lyric Of Light in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile. She was also runner-up in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland, was placed in several other pattern and graded events, and her first foal is a 2015 son of the outstanding Japanese stallion Deep Impact (by Sunday Silence).
The third dam of Alice Springs is Optimistic Lass (by Mr Prospector), who won the Group 2 Nassau Stakes and Group 3 Musidora Stakes, was third in the Group 2 Sun Chariot Stakes and finished fourth behind Circus Plume in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom. She was out of the pattern-placed Loveliest (by Tibaldo) and was a half-sister to the stakes winners Indian Romance (by Raja Baba) and Dangerous Diva (by Royal Academy), the latter a three-parts sister to the Group 3 Minstrel Stakes and dual Scurry Handicap winner Avorado.
Alice Springs, who was runner-up in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and third in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes last year, finished third in both the Group 1 1000 Guineas and Group 1 Coronation Stakes before winning at Newmarket on Friday.
She holds an entry in the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks, but although her full-sister Criteria stayed that trip well, which offers support for the argument that she too may stay, the amount of speed shown by the chestnut suggests that she may have inherited more of the family's speed than did her older sibling, which would limit her distance range.
Her entries also include the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes, the Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes, the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes, the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes, and the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes, so we are likely to get plenty more opportunities to assess her and to determine whether her latest performance was a one-off or marks the start an exciting new phase of her career.
Most of the major classics of 2016 have already been run in Europe and one of the remaining few is the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster in September. The longest and the oldest of the classics, the identities of many of its potential candidates do not become apparent until the months of July and August, and the all-conquering Ballydoyle team unveiled a possible challenger during the July Meeting at Newmarket.
The colt in question had already run six times, so we already knew something about him, but the step up to 13 furlongs resulted in his first pattern success; he beat Platitude by a length and a half in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy. His only prior win came in a 10 and a half furlong Dundalk maiden, making him yet another high-class performer to graduate from the artificial tracks, and each of his three runs between that race and Thursday's one was in blacktype company.
He also had Platitude behind him at Chester in early May, but was beaten by a short-head and a head, by Viren's Army and Linguistic, in the Listed Dee Stakes that day. He was then just under three-lengths fourth to Beacon Rock in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh, and was beaten by a total of two and a quarter lengths when filling the same position behind Across The Stars in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot last month.
Housesofparliament may not have had to produce a much better effort than that to win two days ago, but when his big race entries include the Group 2 Qatar Goodwood Cup and the Group 1 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger, his connections clearly consider him to be a high-class stayer in the making.
The chestnut was bred by Smithfield Inc and he is yet another pattern winner for Coolmore Stud's phenomenal stallion Galileo (by Sadler's Wells). He is the fifth foal of his dam and his full-brother Foundry chased home Telescope in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes three years ago. That bay was only beaten by three and a quarter lengths when fifth behind Leading Light in the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster before heading off to continue his career in Australia.
His siblings also include the seven and eight-furlong winner Unanimous (by Dansili), who was also trained by Aidan O'Brien, and his two sisters are Lady Bingo (by Galileo) and Ballyhoo Kat (by Storm Cat), both of whom were placed. The former stayed 14 furlongs and the latter is a young broodmare in the US; her second foal is a juvenile filly named Ballyhoo Moon (by Malibu Moon).
Housesofparliament of out of Sharp Lisa (by Dixieland Band), who won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes, the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap and the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes, and although Grade 1 placed over nine furlongs, her best form was over a mile.
She is by a stallion that some in Europe immediately associate with stamina, because he got the Group 1 Gold Cup winner Drum Taps from his early runners here, but his European representatives also featured the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) heroine and Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe runner-up Egyptband, Group 1 Oaks d'Italia scorer Menhoubah, and the talented sprinters Didyme, Tajannub and Check The Band, to name just a few.
Dixieland Band, a Grade 2 winner who spent his career at Lane's Farm in Kentucky, was a top-class stallion, and among the leading representatives of his dynasty-making sire Northern Dancer (by Nearctic).
Sharp Lisa's half-brother Spring At Last (by Silver Deputy) won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap over nine furlongs at Gulfstream Park and also the Group 2 Godolphin Mile at Nad Al Sheba, and her half-sister Sharp Susan (by Touch Gold) was both a Grade 2 and Grade 3 winner at nine furlongs.
So can a mare of that sort of profile produce a son who stays the St Leger trip, or further? Although not guaranteed at the time of conception, it does seem likely that she has passed on the stamina influences of her pedigree to Houseofparliament, rather than its speed angle.
Winter's Gone, the dam of Sharp Lisa, is a daughter of Dynaformer (by Roberto), the excellent Three Chimneys Farm stallion whose string of top-level winners featured the classic stars Barbaro, Wiener Walzer, Blue Bunting and Lucarno, plus standouts such as Riskaverse, Point Of Entry, Film Maker, Rainbow View, Perfect Drift, and Melbourne Cup hero Americain.
More telling, perhaps, is that the best of several blacktype siblings of Winter's Gone was Bien Bien (by Manila). He had the pace to be a Grade 1 runner-up over 10 furlongs, he won both the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup and Grade 1 San Luis Rey Stakes over 12 furlongs, and there was just Kotashaan's nose between him and being a dual winner of the Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano Handicap over 14 furlongs at Santa Anita.
Bien Bien had some successful moments at stud, most notably with his son Bienamado, who won the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 10 furlongs and emulated his sire with wins in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup and Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano Handicap.
Housesofparliament has some way to go yet if he is to prove himself good enough to succeed at the highest level, but this pattern-winning Galileo colt is certainly bred to do so, and there is every reason to hope that he can stay at least the St Leger distance.
Heavy ground can distort the margins of actual superiority on the track, but when a maiden is won by a dozen lengths or more, it often happens that the winner is quite a good horse.
In late March, a 10-furlong Cork maiden saw the 4/9 favourite trounce a 6/1 chance by 16 lengths. The winner then took a Group 3 contest at Leopardstown before confirming himself as being one of the brightest stars in Europe; Harzand is now a dual Derby hero.
Usually one would not expect the recipient of such a drubbing in maiden company to do more than, perhaps, become a useful handicapper, but the runner-up that day went on to thrash four rivals by 14 lengths and farther in a similar contest at Sligo just over a month later, again on heavy ground.
He followed that with a third place finish behind Ebediyin in a four-runner event over 12 furlongs at Naas 10 days later, and then went to Royal Ascot where he sprang a 33/1 surprise in the Listed Queen's Vase over two miles.
The horse that Harzand beat so easily at Cork in March is Sword Fighter, and now that the latter has added a two-length win in the Group 2 coral.ie Curragh Cup, there is the chance that two of the year's English classic stars could come from that same maiden. And if you fancy the chances of that Aidan O'Brien-trained colt at Doncaster in September, you can currently get odds of between 8/1 to 12/1, depending on where you look.
Sword Fighter, a son of Coolmore Stud's prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells), was bred by Ciaran 'Flash' Conroy's famous Glenvale Stud. He holds entries in the Group 2 Qatar Goodwood Cup, the Group 2 Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes and the Group 1 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger, and it could be that the Ballydoyle team have another potential staying star in their string.
The first striking thing about the colt's pedigree, when you look at the distaff side of his family, is the amount of speed it contains, and not just milers but those who excelled as sprinters. When matched with Galileo, that is usually a recipe for a mile to 10 furlong horse that just might get 12, but not for a stayer.
Galileo clearly passed on a stamina influence to his son, and it is likely that the colt's broodmare sire is responsible for the rest as, though a miler, Grand Lodge (by Chief's Crown) got middle-distance horses. There is a Group 3 Princess Royal Stakes winner under the fifth generation, but she was by runaway Derby hero Shergar (by Great Nephew) and too remote from Sword Fighter to have any bearing on his aptitude or prospects.
Tarbela, the dam of Sword Fighter, was trained by John Oxx but did not show much aptitude for racing, finishing unplaced in five of her six starts, from six furlongs to a mile, and beaten by a total of 13 lengths when third in a seven-furlong Limerick maiden on her only start at two. She was sold for €40,000 at Goffs, as a broodmare prospect, and on the most recent of three subsequent appearances in the auction ring, she made €160,000 at that same venue nearly four and a half years ago.
By that point she had produced the seven and eight furlong listed scorer Big Audio (by Oratorio), a gelding who, despite being by a top-class 10-furlong horse, was beaten by a long way on his only attempt at that distance. The foal she was carrying at the time of that sale is a gelding named Anachronism (by Arcano), Sword Fighter arrived the following year, and she has a two-year-old full-brother to that rising star, named North Carolina.
Tarbela is a half-sister to Tarwila (by In The Wings), a 12-furlong Curragh winner who got her blacktype when finishing third behind Jammaal in the Listed Trigo Stakes over a quarter-mile less at Leopardstown, and she is also a half-sister to dual mile scorer Teen Ager (by Invincible Spirit), a gelding who got six of his nine wins over seven furlongs.
It is already clear that a pattern is beginning to emerge. The sire appears to determine the effective distance range for many in this family.
Tarbela's half-sister Tahara (by Caerleon), therefore, could have been turned out to be a middle-distance horse, but her career was restricted to just two outings, both as a three-year-old, and both unplaced efforts, one over six furlongs at Newmarket and the other over seven at Sandown.
Of course, some of the Caerleons (by Nijinsky) were highly effective at a mile and under, and so it was reasonable to presume that a daughter of his, out of Tarwiya (by Dominion) could show speed in that range too. And speed is what she is associated with at stud, as she is the dam of the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp heroine Gilt Edge Girl (by Monsieur Bond) and of Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes winner Godfrey Street (by Compton Place).
Tariysha (by Daylami) could also have been expected to stay a mile, or more, but she did not race, and when she was bred to the sprint star Oasis Dream (by Green Desert), the result was Group 1 Prix Morny winner Arcano. He also won the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket, ran just twice at three, and after five seasons at Derrinstown Stud he moved to Allevamento di Besnate, in Italy, in 2016.
Tarwiya's tendency to swish her tail in races helped in making her memorable, but so too did her high-class racing record. The Aga Khan homebred, whom John Oxx trained, won the Group 3 C L Weld Park Stakes and Listed Rochestown Stakes over seven furlongs as a juvenile, and the best of her blacktype placings were her half-length defeat by Twafeaj in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, then over six furlongs, and her third place finish to the outstanding pair Marling and Market Booster in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas.
The best of her siblings were the ill-fated pair Namaya and Blue Dakota, sons of the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp winner Namid (by Indian Ridge). The former was third to George Washington in the Group 2 Railway Stakes as a juvenile and later won a mile premier handicap at the Curragh.
Blue Dakota also died at the age of five, having first sired a handful of progeny at Hedgeholme Stud. As a juvenile he won his first three starts by an aggregate of 13 and a half lengths before scoring a narrow win in the Group 3 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. Those few offspring of his include the five-times sprint winning mare Ingenti.
These are the highlights of the first four generations of Sword Fighter's pedigree. In winning good races over 14 furlongs and over two miles, this three-year-old has proved that he stays much farther than might have been expected given the distaff family he represents. Further improvement is required if he is to win at the highest level, but he is a well-bred son of Galileo and clearly on the upgrade, so anything is possible.
We have reached that point of the season where many of the major classics have been run and the various divisions are sorting themselves out as the big summer festivals approach. There is a long way to go yet before the year's champions can be confirmed, but there are two individuals who are leading the race to be crowned European champion three-year-old filly: Quiet Reflection and Minding.
Both were on a Timeform rating of 122 after Royal Ascot, but as one is a sprinter and the other a classic filly, it is safe to say that they will never meet on the track. That organisation has So Mi Dar next on 120p in the post-Ascot standings, followed by dual French classic heroine La Cressonniere on 118p and Qemah on 118.
Minding, who has never finished worse than second in nine starts, and was an easy winner of the Group 1 Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes over 10 furlongs at the Curragh yesterday, kicked off her season with an impressive three and a half length defeat of her stable companion Ballydoyle in the Group 1 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in May. The pair had met twice as juveniles, with the score one apiece, and it remains to be seen if they will be asked to take each other again.
The combination of the optics of her success and the lack of an apparent standout among the potential Derby colts led to speculation that she might pass up the easier option of the Oaks in favour of tackling the Blue Riband. Of course, she has not yet taken on the colts – Harzand has emerged to lead their pack - and despite stamina doubts suggested by her pedigree, she did take the fillies' classic.
It was a near two-length win against a runner previously rated just 97, and who flopped at Ascot next time, with the rest of the field beaten out of sight – all of which casts doubt over the quality of the form – but the way that she overcame all sorts of trouble in running spoke volumes about her character; she appears to be as tough as she is talented. She also showed her toughness at the Curragh the time before when narrowly beaten by Jet Setting in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas despite suffering a minor facial injury leaving the stalls.
She certainly looked as though she stayed the distance on 3rd June, and having weak opposition will have helped her, but the fact that she won the Oaks does not change the prior readings of her pedigree.
When I analysed her family for The Irish Field last September I noted that: “She should have no problem with the Guineas trip, but examination of her pedigree raises doubt about her potential to stay beyond 10 furlongs. ...although the full Oaks distance may not be beyond her reach, it would be no surprise if she proves to be more of a Guineas and Prix de Diane (French Oaks) contender than an Epsom or Irish Oaks one.”
Not every son or daughter of Coolmore Stud's phenomenal stallion Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) stays 12 furlongs and it is the amount of speed in the distaff side of the family that can be the deciding factor.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Minding, one among an increasing number of top horses bred by the partnership of Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt, is the second foal out of Lillie Langtry (by Danehill Dancer), a mare who was never asked to try beyond a mile. She won a six-furlong Group 3 contest at Naas on 1st June of her juvenile year, was runner-up in the Group 3 Albany Stakes, then won the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at Leopardstown before finishing third, in heavy ground, in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes.
Lillie Langtry won a valuable seven furlong sales race at Newmarket that October, was unplaced at the Breeders' Cup a month later, and was only beaten by about three-parts of a length on her seasonal reappearance, finishing fifth in a blanket finish for the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas. She won the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot, was last of five in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket, and then narrowly beat Spacious in the Group 1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown two months later.
Galileo was an obvious choice for her at stud and their first result was the lightly-raced filly Kissed By Angels. She did not run at two, she was runner-up in a mile maiden at Limerick on her debut at three, beat Devonshire by three and a half lengths in the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial on heavy ground, and then finished well-beaten in both the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas and Group 1 Irish Oaks.
Lillie Langtry's third foal is the juvenile How, who has yet to win in three starts. That said, she has been out surprisingly early for a daughter of Galileo, and there could be plenty of improvement to come from her when she tries seven furlongs and a mile. Her unplaced debut effort was over five furlongs in late April, she then finished third behind Brave Anna in a six-furlong Curragh maiden, and was odds-on when beaten by a head in a similar contest at Naas recently.
By that same date in Minding's two-year-old career, the star had run just once, finishing second in a seven furlong maiden at Leopardstown. Also noteworthy is that Minding is a 10th February foal, but How was not born until 17th May, which is another reason why the younger sibling should not be written off just yet. Their yearling full-sister is also a mid-May arrival.
Minding's grandam and third dam were unraced and her fourth dam unplaced, which is an unusual pattern in a top-class flat horse. Had the first pair raced then might an assessment of her potential stamina range been a little different? Perhaps, but not necessarily.
In addition to Lillie Langtry, Hoity Toity (by Darshaan) has given us Count Of Limonade and a once-raced filly who has a pattern-winning son to her name.
With what we now know of his sire, we might expect that a son of Duke Of Marmalade (by Danehill) out of a Darshaan (by Shirley Heights) mare would be a 12-furlong horse, but the farthest that Count Of Limonade tried in Europe was 11 furlongs. That was when he was runner-up in a listed contest at Leopardstown and this effort, which was preceded by third place in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes over 10, was followed by a half-length victory in a one mile listed event at the Curragh.
His half-sister Lady Hawkfield (by Hawk Wing) was beaten by a long way in a nine and a half furlong Gowran Park maiden, but her first foal is the Grangemore Stud-bred Master Apprentice (by Mastercraftsman), whose second win from five starts for Andrew Balding was a half-length defeat of Cape Clear Island in the Group 3 Classic Trial over 10 furlongs at Sandown last year.
The Darshaans who did not stay middle-distances were comparatively few in number to those who did – brilliant miler Mark Of Esteem is a shining example – and Hoity Toity's siblings include a full-brother won won three times over 12 furlongs and was placed over further. She might have stayed, but that could have depended on how much of the speed aspects of her dam's genetics that she inherited.
She was out of Hiwaayati (by Shadeed), daughter of a 2000 Guineas winner and out of the mare who gave us the notably speedy duo Great Commotion (by Nureyev) and Lead On Time (by Nureyev).
Hiwaayati's daughter Sweet Emotion (by Bering) was a listed-placed winner over a mile, but tailed off on a single attempt at 10 furlongs, before going on to produce the ill-fated Winged Cupid (by In The Wings), a Group 1 Racing Post Trophy runner-up who was a four-length mile listed scorer before being beaten by half a length when runner-up in the Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes over 10 furlongs.
Lead On Time won the Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte and the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Gheest, and Great Commotion, who was the top-rated older sprinter in Europe in 1990, won the Group 2 Cork and Orrery Stakes and Group 3 Beeswing Stakes and was runner-up in both the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas and Group 1 July Cup, among other good events from six furlongs to a mile.
Given the lack of strength of the opposition she faced at Epsom, it remains to be seen if Minding would truly stay the distance in a strongly run race against established 12-furlong stars and in all-aged field, but the dual classic heroine is unquestionably a top-class performer and we may not yet have seen the best of her.
She holds entries in pretty much every major event at eight, 10 and 12 furlongs over the next few months so it is to be hoped that we get plenty more opportunities to assess her before she goes on to what could be a very notable career at stud.